St Albans City 1 Hemel Hempstead Town 1
Vanarama National League South 16/02/2021
Match report by Allan Mitchell
The spoils were shared in an evenly contested Hertfordshire Derby at Clarence Park. City came into the game as favourites sitting in a play-off position as they have done for most of the season, while Hemel were still finding it difficult to string a consistent run of results together.
The Tudors had looked very good when they beat Havant and Waterlooville in their previous game, and history told us that this would be a tight affair, and so it proved.
In a frantic start, both sides had good chances in the first two minutes, Shaun Jeffers saw his shot blocked for City, and the ball went straight up the other end where Chris Paul fired wide from a central position.
Bernard Christie continued his good form, and City had their keeper Michael Johnson to thank, firstly by coming quickly off his line to intercept a through ball and then minutes later to save well from the Hemel striker's shot, after he had beaten the offside trap.
City came into the game more as the half wore on, and Jeffers saw his volley fly over and then ex-Tudor James Kaloczi almost looped a header in from a corner, but Nathan Cooper got his head to it, and it was cleared.
The game was now very much end-to-end, and it was somewhat much of a surprise when the half-time whistle blew with the score still goalless.
City finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark when Solomon Nwabuokei headed home a Zane Banton corner, and it looked as though it was going to be tough for Hemel to find their way past a resolute St Albans backline.
The Tudors kept pressing and were rewarded on 71 minutes when a City defender was guilty of handling the ball in the box. With normal penalty taker Matt Bateman on the bench up stepped Jonathan Lacey, and he made no mistake to level the scores and keep up his recent run of goals.
It remained end-to-end until the final whistle, with both keepers keeping their sides in the game. Ex-Tudor Mitchell Weiss saw his shot saved well by Nick Hayes and Paul almost put his free-kick into the top corner, but Johnson saved superbly again for City.
There was a sprinkling of yellow cards towards the end as tempers frayed, and Jeffers almost nicked the points for St Albans at the death, Hayes saving well again to earn Hemel a share of the points.
Hemel: Nicky Hayes (GK), Gus Scott-Morriss, Nathan Cooper, Kyle Ajayi, Rene Steer, Sam Mantom © Chris Paul, Samir Carruthers, Jonathan Lacey, Reggie Young, Bernard Christie, Subs: Ryan Blackman, Matt Bateman, Danny Webb, Ryan Kinnane, David Saunders (GK)
Tudors Man of the Match: Reggie Young.